The City of Miami's Review Board for former Chief of Police Gary Anderson regarding his discharge from the position was stalled once again, this time due to the absence of Board member Dr. Duane Koehler. Koehler was a no-show at Tuesday morning's meeting despite the Review Board's attorney Carol Lahman and Board member Rudy Schultz saying they had corresponded with Koehler by e-mail and receiving assurances that he would attend today's hearing. Scott Trussler reached Koehler, who has recently taken a teaching position in Tulsa, but who still resides in Miami, by phone before the meeting began and was told he had a scheduling conflict.
The meeting was called to order and Review Board member Scott Trussler was sworn in and elected to the position of Chairman of the Board and Rudy Schultz as Vice Chairman before the stall stopped the process form moving forward.
The discussion was then taken up officially on the record regarding Koehler's absence and his availability to serve on the Review Board and whether the hearing should commence with only four members.
Both the special counsel for the City of Miami Tony Puckett and James Frasier, Anderson's attorney, said that it was important to have five board members. Lahman and the board members discussed the possibility of bringing on another physician, or the possibility of appointing a City Council member to serve on the Review Board.
“It's important that statute be followed. The problem with a council person serving is the possibility of violating the Open Meetings Act,” Frasier said, adding, “I'm going to be the one who urges compliance with statute. Our position, mine and my client Gary Anderson's is one of responsiveness in this proceeding.”
Puckett said there might be the possibility of making dual postings for the Review Board meetings to comply with state law should a council member be appointed.
Frasier said the City of Miami's Charter calls for a physician to serve on the Review Board. Schultz expressed interest in finding a retired physician to fill Koehler's spot should he not return and said due to scheduling difficulties it would be better for a retired physician to serve on the board than a practicing physician.
“State law has supremacy,”Lahman said. She then said that a special meeting would need to be called to appoint any new member whether a physician or a Miami City Council member if Koehler could not serve to avoid further delays.
The Board then agreed to reconvene at 2 p.m. to give them time to explore the legal possibilities of a city council member's appointment, find optional physicians to appoint, and to assess Koehler's availability to serve on the Review Board.
The Review Board reconvened at 1:56 p.m. at which time Trussler announced that he had made contact with Koehler who was resigning his spot on the board citing scheduling conflicts as the reason for his resignation.
A Special City Council Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 31 at 6 p.m. to appoint a new member to the Review Board.
The Review Board is now scheduled to meet again to begin the appeal hearing for Anderson this Friday beginning at 9 a.m. and running daily with the exception of Sunday through to the following Friday June 8, with the possibility of extending it on to June 9 and 10 if needed.